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When a mother is breastfeeding, she does not need to worry as much about her baby catching an infection while feeding. This is because the breastmilk that the mother’s body secretes is pure, and personal hygiene is maintained by all mommies extremely well. However, as bottle-feeding requires using external materials like feeding bottles, nipples, etc., we must take extra caution to make them suitable and safe for the baby.
Doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, after which you can slowly introduce your baby to solid foods. This is also the time when many of us turn to bottle feeding. How to bottle-feed a newborn baby is also a question that lingers in the minds of mothers who have chosen to formula feed their newborns, perhaps for health or personal reasons. While breastfeeding has no parallel, if you need to start formula feeding your baby, you must educate yourself on the right technique of feeding.
Mistakes to Guard against while Bottle-Feeding your Baby
There are a lot of small details that become very important when it comes to bottle-feeding your baby. While we learn much of this on the go, there are some aspects of bottle-feeding we MUST guard against right from the beginning.
1. Not Being Flexible about Frequency of Feeds
The first consideration we have regarding bottle-feeding is the frequency of the feeds. How often does a baby need to be fed through the bottle? As per doctors, it is always better to maintain a flexible feeding schedule. It means you need to feed your baby as and when your baby is hungry, and not according to a schedule set in stone.
Babies and their hunger does not follow as simple a pattern as that of adults, and flexibility is important to ensure their needs are being met. You might take a month or two to settle down and then you might see a routine emerging for timing the feeds. Until then, be flexible with the time of feeding.
2. Not Keeping Bottles Clean Enough
It goes without saying that a mother is extremely cautious about hygiene and cleanliness when it comes to her baby. However, sometimes, it can be hard to figure out how clean is clean enough. As a rule, sterilizing the feeding bottles, rings, and nipples is a must every time before you bottle-feed your baby. Before using the bottle the first time, you must sterilize it in a pot of boiling water for about an hour. Alternatively, you can invest in a good sterilizer. After that, you should let it dry and wipe it with a clean dry towel. After feeding too, wash the bottle generously. Do not use harsh detergents or chemicals for cleaning it.
3. Not Choosing the Right Feeding Position(s)
The next important consideration about bottle-feeding is the feeding positions. Here, you need to remember one important thing all the time: do not try to feed the baby in a sleeping position. Your baby will probably spill out most of the milk, as this does not make an ideal position for feeding the baby. In addition, the milk may flow into the mid ear canal leading to an infection in future. Always keep the baby’s head in an elevated position to help him drink the milk comfortably.
4. Not Burping the Baby after Bottle-Feeding
Burping your baby after feeding is important – every time. After feedings, your baby may be getting too cranky and fussy as he swallows air while feeding. This makes him quite uncomfortable and also can lead to long crying spells. This condition is more common in bottle-fed babies than in breastfed ones. So to avoid such a situation, burp him frequently. You can make him burp in the following ways:
- Put the baby over the shoulder. Hold him close to your chest looking over your shoulder and rub or pat his back gently.
- Put him on the lap. Make your newborn sit in an upright position and make his weight lean forward against your hand’s heel. Now gently rub or pat his back.
- Lay him down. Put him in a stomach-down position on your lap and pat or rub his back.
5. Mixing Breastmilk and Formula Milk
This is a strict no! Paediatricians do not recommend that you mix formula and breastmilk as doing this can seriously mess up the composition of your baby’s feed. It may also lead to problems in digestion. It is advisable to stick to one milk during one feed. However, you may be able to alternate between the two during different feeds of the day. If in doubt, please consult with your paediatrician and follow her instructions.
2 Important Cautionary Tips to Remember
Pick the Right Kind of Bottle
It is important you pick the right kind of bottle for bottle-feeding your baby. The bottle should not be too big or too small. It should have a good grip. It should be easy to clean. It should also be made of safe, non-reactive material that will not adversely react with the formula milk and spoil it, nor react with your baby’s tender, soft and delicate skin.
Buy the Right Kind of Formula Milk
Different formula milk brands will offer you different things. Your baby may like the taste of a particular brand more than that of another. He may find a particular one easier to digest. On the other hand, practical considerations like shelf life, quantity of packaging, and ease of storage may affect your buying preference.
Bottle-Feeding can be tricky and might require some effort on your part. It is not necessarily an ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ process, and your baby needs to be taught to do it (unlike breastfeeding, where you can trust your and your baby’s instincts to take care of majority of it). However, a little bit of practice and patience will make it much better! Good luck!